TV: Hill Country river park thriving in drought

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by By GEORGE KANUCK / KVUE News

kvue.com

Posted on August 6, 2009 at 6:34 PM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 21 at 1:26 PM

The exceptional drought that Central Texas is reeling under can be seen anywhere you look. But one state park that usually depends on the water is actually thriving.

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KVUE's George Kanuck reports

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Pedernales Falls State Park, located outside Johnson City, is known for the falls that cascade over limestone rocks at the park's north end. The lack of rain has turned the falls into a mere trickle of water.

State Park Police Officer Lynn Kuenstler explained just how little water is flowing through the falls.

"This time of year our yearly average is running at about 16 cubic feet per second. When it's at 95 percent it's running at about 49 cubic feet per second," said Kuenstler. "Last week we were running at .03 cubic feet per second, and when I talked to the assistant park manager this morning, he informed me that it was running at .01 cubic feet per second."

The disappearing falls have left sites still beautiful to behold. Take away the sight and sound of water rushing over the rocks, and you are left with a desert oasis in the middle of the Hill Country.

Visitors to the park find that site just as amazing.

"It's absolutely beautiful. It's awesome," said Carlo Cagna, who visited the park with his family for the first time. "You can tell God's finger touched that and it's just a beautiful thing."

Park rangers say that visitor numbers have not declined at all this summer. The now-desert riverbed, the Pedernales Falls that barely flow, is one reason. The fact that there is still water to swim in at other points on the river is another.

"Over at our campsite there's a swimming hole there that wasn't as deep," said Cagna. "But we found this one over here that's nice and deep."

A number of swimmers still line the river during the hot summer months, since underground springs still bubble up enough water to keep parts of the park flowing.

"This is what we give to the people of the State of Texas," said Kuenstler. "This is nature at its best, whether it's dry or it's not."

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